Captain’s Log-November 15, 2015-Aerial Survey over the Okapi Wildlife Reserve

The first team on the survey this year. Rosie Ruf photos all points of interest as we fly.

The first team on the survey this year. Rosie Ruf photos all points of interest as we fly.

Loving African wildlife as I do, it is always a pleasure when I get to help the parks here in Congo. Rosie Ruf organized an aerial survey to check for poachers and illegal mining within the Okapi reserve so Cher and I flew out for 3 days. It was great to be back in the forest and be over so much of it again.   I had done about 4 days earlier in June and this was finishing up the process. This kind of survey is totally different from the game counts I used to do in Zimbabwe. The forest is SO thick with layers of canopy that you can rarely see animals on the ground unless they are in one of the small openings called an “ido”. We try to find where populations of people are moving into the park and cutting trees or poaching, (which we usually find by smoke for the fires to cure meat), but also to see where illegal mining is going on. The rivers get dug up and mercury and other harsh chemicals are dumped into the rivers and everything downstream dies.   It is pretty bad. This is not our normal flying but it is good to help the country and protect the wildlife.

Cher and boeu riding along to Epulu. of course he had to come. He is needs his mom.

Cher and Beau riding along to Epulu. Of course he had to come. He is needs his mom.

The

The “control” barricade at the station with the Congo flag in the foreground as well as guards in the little guard house. Even some women rangers nowadays!

A Congo loaded mini-van on the Epulu-Kisangani road. There is a roadblock at the Station to check for wildlife and other contraban. Chimps, parrots and baby okapi are sometimes found.

A Congo loaded mini-van on the Epulu-Kisangani road. There is a roadblock at the Station to check for wildlife and other contraband. Chimps, parrots and baby okapi are sometimes found.

So we put 3 people in the plane and I fly routes through the park along rivers and boundaries and where there are known incursions and see where patrols need to be sent. This eastern part Congo where we live is much like gold rush days in California or Alaska and there are 1000’s of men and women and boys working little streams all over. I will have to write more about that sometime because it is very interesting seeing the similarities of lifestyle now in Congo and in the mid 1800’s in the US. We are always being asked to “promote” or “Grub steak” a guy who wants enough to get picks and shovels and all the little things he needs to get started on a claim. They come back with tiny little glass bottles with a few gold flakes in them and you wonder how they make a living. But then someone pulls out a nugget and people stay on. There are claim jumpers and bandit groups who rob the miners and saloons and whore houses and all the stuff that we had in the Wild West gold rush days. There are co-ops and big Chinese mines with heavy equipment dredges in the rivers as well as strip mining the beautiful riverine vegetation. In Doko, a South African company is running what will be the most productive gold mine in the world that is massive and run very professionally.

Hunting with some pygmies in the forest. There were six guys with me and I really felt like Snow white with the seven dwarfs. Very cool.

Hunter gathering with some Pygmies in the forest. There were six guys with me and I really felt like Snow White with the seven dwarfs.  They show me all the things to eat and how to make their shelters and good stuff to survive in their environment.  Very cool.

I had a chance to walk in the forest one morning for hours with the Pygmies. I truly love that. They are born hunters and gatherers and know the forest like the back of their hands. Fruit, honey, mushrooms, monkeys, forest pigs and animals of all sorts are on the menu and it is fascinating to see how they gather it all and their traditions and culture. I was with 6 men who were all below shoulder height to me and I felt like Snow White with the 7 dwarfs or something very surreal as we moved quietly through the forest. They are as comfortable in their natural environment as I am in the air.

Some pygmy women around the fire with a house in the background.

Some Pygmy women around the fire with a house in the background.

We had a chance to be with Chui, the little Genet that Cher raised for many weeks when he was only a few weeks old. He remembered us, which was nice, and we played till my arms were shredded with little bites and scratches. He is full grown now and about the size of a cat with shorter legs and the most striking spotted coat and longer stripped tail. So much fun.

Cher with Chue the genet, now all grown up. He goes walkabout sometimes but always comes back.

Cher with Chui the genet, now all grown up. He goes walkabout sometimes but always comes back.

One of the little

One of the little “dukas” or shops in town. Shows nice fat healthy people changing money for “love” but then the effects of AIDS after time. All too common here in Congo and a good warning.

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Posted in Cuture, Hunter/gatherer, Life in Africa, Pilot stuff, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Captain’s Log-October 24 2015-More pix

Cessna 206 on the Burasi airstrip after a rain.  A beautiful day at the office.

Cessna 206 on the Burasi airstrip after a rain. A beautiful day at the office.

I made a mistake and posted the last blog by accident before I had all the pix up.  There is a very cool one with the chief on his throne that I quite like.  Those of you who get the blog by email will have to go to the blog site to see them.  I fly better than I do computers.

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Captain’s Log-October 23, 2015-Return To Burasi

The Green Hills of Africa.  Shockingly beautiful green.

The Green Hills of Africa. Shockingly beautiful green.

So, people are really liking the Burasi airstrip being opened and I have had 2 trips back there since we went in the first time.   Dave Petersen went with me the first of those and, after we dropped some people off in Boga, we flew down the valley and landed at Burasi. The Chief met us and after we checked the strip after recent rains, we were asked if we would like to go down to the river and to the Chiefs house. Of course we agreed. There is a “ferry” across to the Uganda side of the river and we checked out the situation. For only $100 they will ferry your Land Cruiser across the river…There is no paper work to do. No passport control. What could go wrong with this? They are talking about making it a legitimate border crossing in the future.

The small ferry to cross the river by vehicle.  A bit spooky but it works.

The small ferry to cross the river by vehicle. A bit spooky but it works.

We drove on to the Chief’s house, which looked great with a reed boma fence. As we stopped, Chief Albert jumped out of the car and went inside. When I arrived at the open door, he was sitting on his throne across the room with cow skins and leopard skins at his feet and a banner sign overhead that said, “Grand Chef Kituku II Albert Rutahaba Brhema Mitego” framed in tinsel.   A grand title for a grand man. He was happy for us to take pix and afterwards dinner was on the table. Chicken, goat, French fries, rice, cabbage, plantain, and tea. It was very nice and we were made to feel quite special and that we had been with royalty.

Chief Albert on his throne. Leopard skins a sign of royalty here in Congo.

Chief Albert on his throne. Leopard skins a sign of royalty here in Congo.

The Grand Chef Nituku II uhema Albert Rutahba Buhema Mitego

The Grand Chef Nituku II Albert Rutahaba Buhema Mitego

We flew the chief and a couple others out via Boga to Nyankunde with the arrangement that I would fly them back home on Saturday.

Beautiful waterfall on the escarpment abeam Burasi.

Beautiful waterfall on the escarpment abeam Burasi.

It rained all morning Saturday and it was after 1:00p.m. when we were finally loaded up and on our way. It is a short flight but we went past a beautiful waterfall and an area of erosion that looks like a mini Grand Canyon. That is kind of incongruous, mini/grand, but you get the idea. After the rain the sky was crystal clear and as I circled the strip to see what effect the rain had on the surface I saw at least 5 huge crocodiles slither back into the water from the river bank. One of them was 10 feet of visible croc with the whole tail under water, so probably 14 feet at least. These guys were all big enough to take a human and they say that cattle are taken all the time. It is great to be around wildlife again.
I took my fishing rod but there wasn’t a lot of time. But I will have to be switched on to keep from getting eaten. I have something to look forward to!

A lake down from the escarpment into the Albertine Rift.

A lake down from the escarpment into the Albertine Rift. The western branch of the great East African Rift valley.

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Captain’s Log-10 October 2015-Reopening Burasi Airstrip

A crowd gathered around the plane for the occasion of the first plane to land at Burasi in a very long time.

A crowd gathered for the occasion of the first plane to land at Burasi in a very long time.

Things are getting better in our area of Congo and security has been improving some. A good first sign of this is when an airstrip in a previously bad area is put back in service. It is always a fun thing to check out a new airstrip or reopen one that has been “out of service” for a long time. We had received a call from the chief of Burasi the week before asking if we could pick up his shepherd who had been shot in the shoulder by militia and needed to get to the hospital. I know, it doesn’t sound all that wonderful as far as security goes. But even little steps forward are great. There had been termite mounds all over the strip and it was just not usable so while they went to work fixing it up for the next time the shepherd had to go by car.   It was an 8 hour road trip to Boga which would have taken only about 8 minutes to fly in the plane or 12 minutes to get all the way to the mission hospital here in our home village of Nyankunde.

David Petersen, our new pilot enjoying getting checked out in Congo. He is a great pilot and they are settling in to life here quickly.

David Petersen, our new pilot, enjoying getting checked out in Congo. He is a great pilot and they are settling in to life here quickly.

It was great that we needed to do this strip check at the same time our new pilot, Dave Petersen, needed some experience with this so we went together.  We do a Wind “LASSO” check, (which you can read about in the November 2010 post), before landing. It is interesting to see exactly how accurate you are after you get on the ground and can measure the strip with a wheel.

Burasi is up against the Semliki River which is the boundary of Congo and Uganda and it is down over the escarpment from where we live, so it is lower and hotter and totally different vegetation. It is very flat and open for the most part and it reminds me of being in the Zambezi Valley in Zimbabwe, although all the wildlife has been killed off by years of war and no control.

The chief and one of his wives come to greet us at the reopening of the strip. He is a fine man who I enjoyed greatly.

The chief and one of his wives came to greet us at the reopening of the strip. He is a fine man who I enjoyed greatly.

As we flew over the strip checking its condition people gathered on the ground and, by the time we touched down and rolled back to the opposite end, there was quite a crowd of people there.  A representative came to the door of the plane and said, “The chief is here to greet you. He is the one in the hat with his wife next to him.” He was a very distinguished looking man and I would have chosen him as the one, but it was good to know for sure. I walked over and greeted the chief and everyone else and said we were so glad to come here again after so many years. We took pictures of the event and then Dave and I, and a lot of the crowd including the chief and even one of his wives in her nice clothes and shoes, walked the strip checking it out. They had done some good work removing termite mounds and clearing the strip. I was a bit concerned that in a rain, the honeycomb of the mounds would become soft and collapse when the wheels of the plane ran over them. Also, if the queen is not removed, the mound is repaired and the problem remains. They said they would fix it. When we got back to the plane, the rain was coming quickly and we needed to get going. But not before the Chief presented me with a beautiful hind half of goat meat. It was a lovely time and we had made some new friends.

Dave grew up in West Africa and loves goat meat so I cut him off a back leg when we got home.   Cher fixed ours for supper last night and we had the very best goat meat and potatoes that I have ever eaten. Ah, the joys of bush flying in Africa.

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Captain’s Log-6 October 2015-Scouting the Falls

Starting the walking safari machetes swinging, to clear a way through the undergrowth.

Starting into the walking portion of our little safari, machetes swinging to clear a way through the undergrowth.

There is a beautiful waterfall near here that I spotted from the air and have wanted to go to for a very long time. It is only 6 miles from Nyankunde on the GPS in the plane but that’s a very straight line. On the ground nothing is straight or flat, the road is bad, it peters out to a motorcycle trail and then to a mere foot path through the bush. I had talked to a couple of the robust pilots and doctors about going to scout it out some day and they all said “Just tell me the day and I am there”.

That would have been the good plan. Scouting is usually a hard thing and there is almost always a better way to do things than the first way. But when we were sitting around the table at Joey and Kathleen Martin’s house at dinner on Friday night, they said,” Jon, our sister is leaving for the States on Monday and she would really like to do something fun before she leaves. Could you please take us to the falls tomorrow?” What could I say? It wasn’t the smartest thing, but I went ahead and told Cher we would be gone about 2 or 3 hours. So we left on our little “3 hour tour” around 8:00 the next morning. Joey, Kathleen, Deana, the 2 little girls Dorothy and Hannah, and little baby Levi. Not exactly the intrepid explorer team I had envisioned for a recon hike, but I figured what can go wrong? We can always turn back when they get half tired.

As we drove along the little-used village road and then through high grass that brushed the sides of the 4X4 Toyota, we came to a bridge. It was very rickety and the rotting boards that allowed motorcycles to cross had to be realigned to match the pickup’s wheel base. We had the women and children get out and walk across and then Joey lined up the boards. Our little adventure was shaping up nicely. We stopped at the CME bush clinic in Sezabo village where I had seen a walking trail into the adjoining valley that the falls was at the top of and people came out of the woodwork to see what the mzungus wanted in their village. When we told them we wanted to see the falls, three of them said they would take us there. The nurse who runs the clinic said it was close. Maybe a 20 minute walk. That sounded good from my estimate of distance in relation to terrain that I had previously walked around Nyankunde. But my only personal observations of this route were from the air, and I might mention here that things often look a lot smaller from the air going 150 knots an hour. And the nurse had never actually been to the falls.

We all took a drink and were off on our walk. Everyone was doing well and having fun.   The overcast provided a nice level of shade so we didn’t overheat in the equatorial African sun. After a kilometer or so of walking and greeting folks we came to a hut where a couple of guys sat talking and when we told them of our mission they said “Oh, no Mzungus have been here for many years. Maybe 15 years. We will take you.” This sounded good too, so they grabbed their machetes and we were off. Within 5 minutes of walking they were hacking branches and grass to make a trail for us as the terrain started climbing gently up. There were small openings with banana trees but the vegetation changed to a rain forest riverine thickness quite quickly. As the trail started down toward the river we could hear falling water and for a bit I really thought we could be getting close. But we weren’t to the falls yet. It was just the place in the river where we were supposed to cross to the other side. The rocks were incredibly slippery and crossing while carrying the girls was interesting. They were not too thrilled with the fire bucket brigade fashion by which they were passed across. After I slipped and fell in up to my camera I didn’t mind being the guy in the gap to help others over. We walked on and on, up and down, crossing the stream over and over.   I really admired the Martins who were carrying the kids all the way. We moved slowly because a trail had to be cut and, even so, it was still hard work and humid. And the ladies were getting tired. Each time I asked our guides how far they said, “Not far, just around this corner.” Corners came and went. I could see Martins were getting tired and thought we had come to their half way point. I said this to the men and they said it is “right here”. I told Martins to rest a bit while I went to see what “right here” looked like. The guides and I walked right along the river in a canyon where the bush was still thick and I could hear falling water. Finally we broke out into an opening and could see upstream about 60 meters to a small falls that ran over a rock with about a 30 degree slope. It was beautiful with a small pool at the base of it and rocks and tropical vegetation all around. I turned to go get Martins when one of the men that had gone ahead to find a ‘path’ onward slipped from the top of the falls. I watched him slide and bounce all the way down into the pool before disappearing under the water. The other 4 guys with me assured me that he was fine but we waited way too long before his head came up for a very short breath and then he went down again. His machete bearing hand did surface but that was all and I finally said, “Hey guys, we have to help him”. We rushed across the slippery rocks and as we got ready to jump in he drifted downstream to a shallower spot and came up. He was done in and after helping him to sit up, it took him way too long to recover. I went back to get the Martins and after that rest they had no problem getting to the little falls where we took pix and talked about the best way to get back. All the guys said the best way was onward a bit and then over the very steep cliffs to the top of the ridge where there was an old road that we could walk back on. This is why you scout things before bringing the kids!

Just as our guides rush to help the man who slipped down the falls, he surfaces and floats to shallower water.

Just as our guides rush to help the man who slipped down the falls, he surfaces and floats to shallower water.

Looking at his Machete which he had managed to save, still stunned by his fall and near drowning.

Looking at his Machete which he had managed to save, still stunned by his fall and near drowning.

We endured another torturous hour of climbing up slippery rock cliffs carrying now crying kids before we realized that we were actually not heading back yet but still going to the bigger falls. They said it was the only way out. It was beautiful and it was good to have actually made it all the way to our destination, but knowing how much we had left to do was daunting and I was getting concerned for Kathleen, who had carried the baby all the way. We took a while to rest and look around and drink what water Martins had brought. With so little clean water left we finished it and filled the water bottle with the river water. It would be better than nothing if things got desperate, and at this point we had a feeling that was in the realm of possibility. There was also a bit of cheese and peanuts which Kathleen kindly shared around. But we were so thirsty it felt as if they turned to chalk in our mouths.

Everyone smiling for the picture, even the man who almost drowned.

Everyone smiling for the picture, even the man at the top who almost drowned.

We started back up the steep hill to the top and Kathleen finally gave me the baby to carry, as the trail was too slick for her to climb while carrying Levi. Next we walked through an any covered area that seemed to go on forever. They have an interesting way of not biting you till they get up far enough that they can really make you uncomfortable. I had them biting me on my back and in my pants all the way back to the car but by this point what on any other day might have been quite painful was just another annoyance. We got out much quicker than we had expected and it was all downhill to the vehicle from there.

Proof that we mad it to the big falls.  No name.  I think I will call it Cher falls.  What do you think?  Livingston named Mosi-oa-Tunya Victoria Falls!  And Cher is my queen.

Proof that we made it to the big falls. No name as far as I know.   I think I will call it Cher Falls. (Cher said, “Because she does”).  What do you think? Livingston renamed Mosi-oa-Tunya – “Victoria Falls” and Cher is my queen!

Then the men told me that we were coming to a military camp and we should stay together and be careful. As we approached the soldier on guard suddenly brandished his AK and told the men to stay where they were in a way that made us believe that he could radically change our day in a heartbeat. When I carried on and he raised the gun further and made it clear he had meant me as well. I stopped and we waited for the CO to finally come out. We told him we were the MAF pilots from Nyankunde and he was very happy to let us carry on.

I could not help but sing “10,000 Reasons for my Heart to Sing” as we carried on. Just as we walked up to the Hi-Lux, Dave Jacobsson and Kazi came driving up to check on us. Cher had not heard from us as we had been out of phone and radio contact in the next valley over and we were hours past our estimated return time. It is nice to know you have friends looking out for you. Dave had cold water and fresh rolls sent by his wife, Donna, and we were glad to have the refreshments.

As we drove home, the traumas of the day just seemed to melt away. I had brought along cold Cokes and we stopped a bit up the road to have our “coke and buns”, once again thoroughly enjoying the day. We crossed back over the bridge and then put the boards back the way we had found them. Adventures always seem to be better in the telling than in the living and we had truly had a nice little adventure.

As we drove home, the traumas of the day just seemed to melt away. I had brought along cold Cokes and we stopped a bit up the road to have our “coke and buns”, once again thoroughly enjoying the day. We crossed back over the bridge and then put the boards back the way we had found them. Adventures always seem to be better in the telling than in the living and we had truly had a nice little adventure.

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Captain’s Log- 26 July 2015-Disarming Tail Rotor Accident

Well, if I am going to have a crash, this is the one to have.  My computer crashed a while back and I have had to work at restoring my memory.  It is amazing what you can forget when you store it in places that are not your brain.  It is not like nothing has been happening.  So much has happened.  Here is something I wrote a couple weeks ago.

Preparing for the operation.  Deciding how best to proceed.  Dr, Warren and Dr. Mike and others get things ready.

Preparing for the operation and deciding how best to proceed. Dr. Warren, Dr. Mike and others get things ready.

I cut a man’s hand off today.  Well, at least what was left of it.  It had been cut off by a helicopter tail rotor only days before up at Garamba Park.  One of the park’s rangers, Dieu Donne, would have walked right into the swinging blades if the wind had not blown his hat off, causing him to reach up to catch it.  The blade hit him at least twice, taking all his fingers and most of his hand off with the first blade and hitting his arm, shattering the ulna bone with the next.  A big section of the bone was just missing.  He was taken to the hospital in Dungu to get blood and they sewed up the arm, as it looked too terrible to them to leave open.    Then he was moved to Bunia to the UN hospital, but when they found out he was not a soldier they would not treat him and, a day later, he was moved to our hospital in Nyankunde.  The wound on the arm had now become infected from being closed before being cleaned up  properly.   It was a mess, but now it was going to be fixed.  I asked Dr. Mike if I could watch or assist in any way and he said yes.  I was excited as I had not been in theater since Zimbabwe days when I flew Matableland Flying Doctors Service and I’ve been quite missing it.
As Dr. Warren stuck the needle into the nerve bundle above Dieu Donne’s collar bone to block the pain to the arm, I watched on the ultrasound as it entered into the bundle and came to within a few millimeters of the carotid artery.  I looked over at our patient who looked on like he was watching a TV show at home on the couch and thought, “Man, this should be hurting more than that”.   I asked Dr. Warren….”Does this not hurt that much or is this guy just  really tough?”   The doctor said “No, this guy is a real stud.”  I guess chasing down Sudanese poachers around the bush in the hot African sun for years as they shoot at you and throw grenades makes you pretty hard.  And this guy was said to be their best. Through the whole procedure he was stoic and tough as nails.  Dr Warren had another operation so we moved to the theater and when Dr. Mike started taking off the bandage that covered the wound the smell of infection was obvious.  The hand cut was clean but the arm was not so nice.   There was plenty of skin to make a good flap to cover the opening we would leave from removing the arm about half way between the elbow and the wrist.  It had to be done.  I watched Dr. Mike start getting scrubbed up and he explained how to put on gloves to stay sterile.  He did it with ease  and said, “There are gloves for you.  Put them on like I did. “  I got scrubbed and gloved like he said and then suited up. I even wore scrubs!   Blood has always seemed a bit like hydraulic fluid to me and I am just not squeamish when it comes to anything in the operating room.  That is nice.  And much of orthopedic  surgery is like carpentry or working on the plane for me.  Being an aircraft mechanic requires schooling in woodworking, sheet metal, welding, hydraulics (plumbing), basically repairing things of all types of materials.  We even do sewing in our Dope and Fabric courses to work on mostly older types of planes.  But,though we don’t get a lot of info on the human body, still many principles apply.
We worked for what seemed like a couple of hours. Mike saved as much as he could but cut away the damaged flesh and removed muscle from bone and cleaned everything  back to where the arm had been sliced through with the  tail rotor until finally the bone was ready to cut.  Then he looked up and handed me the wire saw and asked if I would like to do the honors.  I could not pass up the opportunity.  It is like many times in life where I hate to see things like this happen but if it has to happen, I want to be the one to do it. I have felt like that sometimes when an elephant has killed a person…. maybe with good cause, at least in his eyes.  But it can’t pass without consequence or it continues to happen and I have been called to shoot the offending elephant.  If it has to be done, it is a great adventure and I am happy to be the one who carries out the task.
We got everything ready to close and took the tourniquet off and blood sprayed all over Mikes shirt out of an artery that had not sealed well when we cauterized .  He stiffened but  skillfully found the bleeder and I dabbed up blood as the good doctor tied it off.   I held the arm while Mike closed the flap of skin over the cut area and sewed it neatly up.

Finishing up, Missed many of the good pix as it was necessary to stay sterile but you may be happy to have missed them as they  were quite "colorful. It was a nice job if I do say so myself.

Finishing up. Missed many of the good pix as it was necessary to stay sterile but you may be happy to have missed them as they were quite “colorful. It was a nice job if I do say so myself.

Later that night as Cher and I were relaxing, I turned to her and said, “Cher, I cut a man’s arm off today!” It was quite unbelievable.

Yesterday on the front pourch looking at photos Deo Donne is very happy and strong in his body and mind.  IT is great to see.

Yesterday on the front porch looking at photos of the surgery Dieu Donne is very happy and strong in his body and mind. It is great to see.

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Captain’s Log- 15 March 2015-Incongruity In Congo

Football  match in Nyankunde with new Cell tower behind the  pitch.  The site  of the shooting the night before.

The football match in Nyankunde with new cell tower behind the pitch. The site of the shooting the night before.

The noise from the football game just down the hill from our house became so loud and exciting that Cher and I had to leave our little building project and go down to see what was so thrilling.   It was a match between Nyankunde’s CME nursing school and the neighbouring village of Irumu that was 2-1 in favour of our Nyankunde team with only 10 minutes left to play. It was exciting to the end and as we watched we were struck with the incongruities of life here.

Only last night we were jolted to attention at around 9:00 P.M. by the sharp crack of AK rounds going off. It was quick but there were 3 bursts of rounds that sounded like they came from at least 2 places which were a ways apart. The last bit was on automatic and I ran to the back room where Cher was to see if she was alright. The shots were in range to hit the house but as we turned off all the lights and closed the curtains I checked for muzzle flashes or anything that would give away a position and I saw nothing. The MAF radios came to life as we discussed what was going on and what we might do. Hunkering down is often the best plan so we hunkered, on floors in hallways and pantries.

Almost immediately the village came to life in a dramatic way. Drums, school bells and every clanging thing in the area clamoured with amazing effect. The people started to shout and you could see how walls might, after a few days, actually fall from the sheer noise of people shouting. It had been a while since the last shots and I ventured out to see machete and spear welding villagers shouting as they rushed up the hill behind the soccer field were we later enjoyed the joyful match, a snaking line of lights winding up the mountain. It was pretty exciting to see and I was glad they were not after me. We were also quite proud of the reaction of the people in response to the shooting. Not long ago similar things happened here and everyone fled the village, the memory of recent massacres fresh in their minds. But not this time! They were not putting up with it now.

In the end, it turned out to be bandits and not militia which is somewhat better.  I went to check on friends as things calmed a bit but there was shouting for hours and we were told that young men patrolled the hills behind our house all night long and will continue to do so for the next week. The pleasant Saturday afternoon football match and cheering for the home side was as normal as a day in England watching the footy and quite a change from the serious defensive shouting of only a few hours before. Encouraging and very incongruous, I must say.

Our little Cessna 206 parked beside an Africa Tulip Tree.

Our little Cessna 206 parked in it’s spot beside an Africa Tulip Tree.  Spathodea nilotica.  Peaceful and quiet.

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